End the “cloak-and-dagger” politics and let all political parties meet and reach a new national consensus that the country’s biggest threat is the Covid-19 pandemic and that there would be no 15GE until the threat is overcome

End the “cloak-and-dagger” politics and let all political parties meet and reach a new national consensus that the country’s biggest threat is the Covid-19 pandemic and that there would be no 15th General Election until the threat is overcome.

The proclamation of an emergency yesterday is the product of such “cloak-and-dagger” politics for it came as a total surprise to the nation apart from the Cabinet Ministers, especially after the Monday address by the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin on the re-imposition of movement control order (MCO) on eight states and territories and conditional MCO on six other states, and the continuation of the recovery MCO on the two remaining states.

If the purpose of the emergency is solely to win the war against Covid-19 and to unite all politicians, civil society leaders, religious bodies, youth organisations and everyone in Malaysia behind this mission, then there is no need for the “cloak-and-dagger” approach where the whole nation was taken by total surprise by the emergency proclamation.

There should have been a full national discussion and even a debate through the summoning of a Special Parliament whether an emergency is the best means to ensure that Malaysians can win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was what happened in Spain, where the state of emergency in mid-March and its subsequent extensions were debated and passed in the Spanish Parliament.

This was also the case in France, where the French Parliament voted to extend the state of emergency in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic until Feb. 16, 2021.

But this is not the case with Malaysia.

Muhyiddin said yesterday that the emergency is no military coup and that the civilian government will continue to function and gave an assurance that the judiciary will also continue to carry out its duty without any intervention from his government.

As Malaysia practises the doctrine of separation of powers among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, the Prime Minister should modify the emergency conditions and announce that the Executive would not interfere with the legislative and scrutiny function of Parliament.

This would also resolve the difference between the Speaker of Parliament, Azhar Azizan Harun and the Public Accounts Committee Chairman, Wong Kah Woh – with the former maintaining that Parliament will continue to play a check-and-balance role as all parliamentary groups and select committees could continue to operate while the latter maintaining that Azhar’s comments were disingenuous since all committees could not table their reports to Parliament.

I support Wong Kah Woh’s position but his difference with the Speaker can be immediately resolved if Parliament and the various State Assemblies are not banned from operating during the emergency.

In fact, I would argue that if the Prime Minister is serious about his pledge that the emergency would not undermine the government’s commitment to uphold good governance, he should allow Parliament and the various State Assemblies to function and equally important, to spearhead an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy and approach in the war against the Covid-19 epidemic - an aspect which had been conspicuously absent in the past 11 months of the government’s war against Covid-19 pandemic.

All Malaysians irrespective of race, religion or politics, must unite as Malaysians to resolve the unprecedented crisis represented by the Covid-19 pandemic – without any more “cloak-and-dagger” politics or diabolical politics of race, religion, lies, falsehood and fake news.

The coronavirus is not respector of race or religion and we can only undermine the efficacy and success of our war against the Covid-19 pandemic if we divide ourselves whether in terms of race, religion, politics or misinformation.l

Yesterday’s record-setting daily increase by 3,309 new Covid-19 cases and 4 fatalities bringing the cumulative total to 141,533 Covid-19 cases and 559 fatalities have ranked Malaysia as No. 69 among countries in the world with most Covid-19 cases, overtaking China (No. 82) and Myanmar (No. 70). We seem to be set on overtaking Philippines (now ranked No. 32 with cumulative total of 491,258 Covid-19 cases and 9,554 fatalities).

Malaysians must unite to ensure this trajectory is broken.

When the MCO was first imposed on March 18, 2020, we had a cumulative total of 790 Covid-19 cases and 2 fatalities. Now, we have 141,533 Covid-19 cases and 559 fatalities.

If the present trajectory of increase of Covid-19 infections continue, and we overtake Philippines, we will among the top 30-40 nations with a cumulative total of more than half a million Covid-19 cases.

This is not glory but infamy.

All Malaysians must unite with a single-purpose to ensure that this horrible scenario does not take place, and that we return to a situation where we learn to live with the deadly coronavirus with single or double-digit daily increase of Covid-19 cases, and that we never overtake Philippines in cumulative total of Covid-19 cases.

But we must not panic as we are not in the class of the top countries paralysed by Covid-19 pandemic like the United States which has a cumulative total of over 23 million cases and nearly 400,000 deaths - yesterday registering a daily increase of 221,121 new Covid-19 cases (on January 8, it set a new record of daily increase of 307,983 new infections) and record-high of 4,259 fatalities.

Or the other 17 countries which have over a cumulative total of a million cases like India (10.5 million cases), Brazil (8.2 million), Russia (3.4 million), UK (3.2 million), France (2.8 million), Turkey (2.35 million), Italy (2.3 million), Spain (2.1 million), Germany (1.96 million), Colombia (1.8 million), Argentina (1.74 million), Mexico (1.54 million), Poland (1.4 million), Iran (1.3 million), South Africa (1.26 million), Ukraine (1.1 million) and Peru (1 million).

We must learn the best lessons and worst mistakes of other nations in the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest nation whose mistakes we must learn from is Ireland – the country which is recording the highest infection rate in the world last week.

When Ireland came out of a strict six-week lockdown in December it had one of the lowest levels of Covid-19 cases in Europe.

Since then, the situation has dramatically unraveled. What has gone wrong?

Ireland is ranked No. 60 with a cumulative total of 155.591 Covid-19 cases and 2,397 fatalities.

Are we going to overtake Ireland?

Let us make a national resolve that Malaysia will not overtake Philippines (now ranked No. 32) or even Ireland (No. ranked No 60), or the second MCO and the proclamation of emergency will not have served their purpose in fighting the Covid-19 epidemic.

This is the time for Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, politics or region to unite for the national cause to save Malaysia from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri